God with Us
Tammy Lindle of Independence, MO, USA
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing….
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy….
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. -Isaiah 35:1-2a, 5-6a, 10
Several years ago I found myself in a dark place, facing my first holiday season as a newly single person. It was impossible for me to be in the “holiday spirit.” None of the brightness and warmth of the season was part of my reality that year. My attempts at holiday shopping were a disaster. Surrounded by happy families celebrating the season, I felt like the most conspicuously sad person at the mall. I was alone. Going through the motions was just not working. There was no joy for me.
To prepare for Advent I shared in an experience at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, where we were led in readings that spoke about the season in terms of darkness and waiting. After each reading, the candlelit room became a little darker as, one by one, the candles were extinguished leaving us in a dark space. This is exactly where I felt my heart and outlook for the season were-in darkness.
The readings spoke of great things that occur in times of darkness and waiting for the “not yet” time of Advent. Seeds planted in dark soil need time to transition into something that expands, then frees them to live in new ways, no longer trapped within the seed. Mothers carry their babies within dark wombs, where amazing growth takes place away from seeing eyes. All of this important growing and changing takes time. It can’t be rushed. Many times it requires darkness and solitude. We do a disservice to the growing when we rush times of waiting.
This was a profoundly new idea for me. I encountered it when I was most able to receive it. This notion of waiting and growing completely changed the way I looked at Advent and at my place in the healing process. It continues to shape how I approach the season. We are heading toward the light that is the miracle of “God with us.” At times our journeys lead us into seasons of darkness and growing. Learning how to find our way is part of the way of discipleship; we should not rush this journey. What are you waiting for?
Advent Prayer Phrase
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).
Advent Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply and spend a few moments inviting silence to deepen around you. Pay attention to what is forming in you this day as you prayerfully consider the following questions: What awareness or gift begins to emerge in you through the practice of waiting? When do you notice being invited to resist rushing to the next thing and remain present with what may be slowly unfolding? What can you learn from being fully present in the waiting times?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.